Donald Trump and his movement defied the odds yesterday and won the Electoral College, cementing him as the 45th President of the United States. At this time we await results only from Michigan, Arizona, and New Hampshire, with only N.H. swinging for Hillary Clinton. Thus, popular vote notwithstanding the electoral breakdown looks to be 232 Hillary to 306 Trump, thirty-six votes over the 270 mark of victory for the Donald. It’s no landslide, but it’s decisive.
Throughout the night and into the day have come the screams, swears, wails, flails, tears, jeers, vomits, threats of suicide, tie-cutting, graffiti gloating, and – in California – kiddy rioting from everyone with strong passions about the election. As with most losers, those disheartened by last night’s results are no-doubt scrambling to make sense of it all. And while I have few delusions about the lack of love many of my peers on the Left have for me, I would not deny them my cordial olive branch.
So, consider me, as always, here to help with my usual tough love and old political guru skills.
Your hatred of the Electoral College is misplaced.
I remember hearing this back when the Electoral College went for George W. Bush 271-266. Unsurprisingly, such complaints went out the window when Barack Obama won in 2008 and again 2012 – both of which entailed electoral victories far more decisive than Trump’s. Your frustration that it did not tilt in your favor this time is understandable, but you’re missing how key the Electoral College is to our constitutional republican structure.
Consider that without the Electoral College, we wouldn’t look at election games in terms of these basic numbers and strategy. It would be entirely about cultivating turnout among the most densely populated places, and no campaign would bother going anywhere else. So you’d actually ignore more voters in more areas across the nation by doing away with it, and thus get a less complete picture of the people. With the Electoral College, the game becomes more concentrated, diversified, and regionalized, with candidates forced to flex and focus their platforms and messages to broaden their appeal, and learn about problems they otherwise might not.
In other words, if the Electoral College doesn’t exist, no one cares about the Midwest except Chicago and maybe Detroit. But with the Electoral College, the entire region becomes a bigger factor. Thus, the Electoral College does not just prevent an imbalance between city & country (young vs old) values. It also prevents any one state or small group of super populated states from exerting their tyranny over the entire nation at large. You may not like how they voted this time, but I think they deserve a voice.
And finally, the Electoral College ensures that voters will actually speak to one another, which is perhaps the greatest democratic value second only to voting. Think about how comparably few Remain voters during Brexit actually had family, friends, and other acquaintances who voted Leave, so blisteringly unaware that there were that many aggrieved and angry citizens and countrymen bowing before the same queen.
Without the College, the cities are at each other’s throats, and campaigns can spend their entire duration just in a select handful of them, while completely ignoring the other one. But with it, campaigns are forced to meet and work the ground of certain swing regions where people actually know and interact with each other. Those families and communities full of people with political differences can only avoid each other so much. And even today, with discursive animus higher than it has ever been in living memory, that’s still valuable.
Bear in mind also: if the tables were turned (as some suggested was possible) and Donald Trump instead won the popular vote without winning the Electoral College, many of you would kneel at the altar of that institution like it was the saving grace of the world.
And while we’re on the subject of frustrating political tools that mask a great blessing…
You should have listened to the warnings against nuking the filibuster.
In November, 2013, the Democratic Senate majority under the initiative of Harry Reid changed the Senate rules to allow filibusters to be curtailed by a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote cloture. Only three Democrats (Pryor, Levin, & Manchin) were wise enough to vote against it, and you’re about to find out why – the hard way.
The Republican Senate, now that it will kowtow to the whims of a Republican president who will no-doubt demand a thing or two from them while in office, will not restore the filibuster to the strength that it had previously. That would be like asking the House to pass a law imposing term limits upon themselves. As such, any treaties, ambassadors, cabinet appointments, agency appointments, and – yes – federal judges that you take issue with will likely sail through the Senate with minimal obstruction.
I have been 100% pro filibuster for my entire adult life. I have long defended the principle behind its usage, even when it was used abominably, like Strom Thurmond & Robert Byrd’s filibuster of the Civil Rights Act, and Wendy Davis’s filibuster of Texas Senate Bill 5. Great means, horrible ends; Democrats confused the two in 2013 and you’re going to regret that now.
The tyranny of the majority is about to reign unchecked and there could be troubling constitutional implications as a result. As a conservative I will be on guard at all times, and I anticipate that I will find myself frequently in dissent of it as I was when the Left enjoyed its tenure of power, but don’t blame the tools for how much you hate the way men choose to use them (this is also a proper attitude of firearms). And on that note…
Pick a theory of Executive Power already.
Everyone knows how this pattern works. Democrats now in the minority will suddenly remember the War Powers Resolution, the opinions of Robert Jackson, and the need to ensure that the Executive Branch cannot act unilaterally, all of which they conveniently forgot when their man was in charge. This is not to say that Republicans were especially better – merely that, like the filibuster, what goes around comes around. Support President Obama’s executive overreach on trying to curb Americans’ lawful right to purchase a firearm, and you may find yourself unable to stop the next guy’s executive overreach on, say, exiling all citizens of a certain faith.
But at the very least, you should now understand why conservatives fear an oversized and overstuffed government. Slippery slopes are why principles exist in the first place.
Rise & shine, put on your big boy/big girl pants, go about your day, and get over it.
In my lifetime, I have voted in three presidential elections. None of them, including this one, went my way, and I have endured the cold bitterness of such defeat that always felt more than simply political. It hurt to see my classmates and countrymen fall under the spell of Barack Obama the first time. It hurt again (though admittedly less so) to see them fall for it again. And you have no idea how much it hurt to see my political party – the party of Reagan who told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” to the party of Trump that salivates at the thought of building one in our own country. This time around, I did my mourning months before the general-election ballots were cast, went through all five stages of grief, and thus weathered the evening with some cheer, an analytic mind, and a lot of alcohol.
In less than one day, I have already seen many eager to hunt and purge dissenters in their families and circles, reflective of the decline of discourse I have lamented all year. I have seen many of you, in the height of your panic and passion, pledge to impose conditions of political conformity on your love, respect of, and friendships with those that you will encounter in your personal and professional lives. And I have seen people from peers to strangers express – with vulgarity that should not occupy our lexicon this close to Thanksgiving – open contempt for their fellow citizens, not only those who voted for Trump but those who either did not vote or voted for something other than Hillary.
Let’s dispense with this nonsense at the close.
You and your problems are not the center of the universe, and I, along with my true conservative kin who refused to support or vote for Donald Trump, did not owe you our votes for Hillary Clinton. We didn’t owe you our time, money, energy, or positivity, and we certainly don’t owe you our sympathy or regrets.
We had a duty to our conscience and ours alone. We are not here to impress you, entertain your pleadings, or save you from your own incompetence. We are not here to be moved by your armchair activism or satisfy your lethargic entitlement. I also believe we have regressed tremendously from our Founders’ visions and potential, not because of what happened yesterday but because of what happened in July when the two candidates were nominated. I could not vote for them, so I didn’t.
Next time, pick someone better whom you don’t have to make excuses for, and maybe take note of some of the above governing principles for use later on. But for now, accept your defeat, your personal responsibility in it, that one way or another we are all moving on, learn to treat one another better, find your political and moral center, and maybe you’ll connect with more of the people you’ve been tossing aside for years. That is, if you even want to.
That and, of course, get over it.